Priest Arrested on Charge of Sexual Assault on Boy

By Mary Wisniewski
The Reuters
November 22, 2011

(Reuters) - A Catholic priest wanted in Colorado on charges that he sexually assaulted a boy was arrested in Chicago on Monday by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI said.

Father Richard James Kurtz, 67, who worked as a chemistry teacher at the University of Detroit High School in Detroit, Michigan, was turned over to Cook County authorities for extradition to Colorado, the FBI said.

Child abuse controversies have rocked the Catholic Church in the United States in the last decade, and the church has paid out some $2 billion in settlements to victims, bankrupting a handful of dioceses.

Kurtz, a Jesuit, faces felony charges for sexual assault and attempted sexual assault of a male under the age of 18 while they were in Colorado in 2001. Authorities did not give the boy's age.

The alleged crimes had no connection to any Colorado church, according to Sergeant Ron Hanavan, spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff's Office in Castle Rock, Colorado. Kurtz has been booked into a Chicago jail on a $100,000 bond.

The investigation began in June 2011 after the Society of Jesus Chicago-Detroit Province notified the Douglas County Sheriff's Office of the alleged crimes, Hanavan said in a statement. A warrant was issued for Kurtz' arrest last Friday.

The Province said in a statement on Monday that it had been cooperating with Colorado authorities on the case since April.

"In 2001, when a report first surfaced alleging misconduct by Father Kurtz, while he was visiting Colorado, a report was made by Fr. Kurtz Superior to civil authorities in the state of Michigan, where Fr. Kurtz was located at the time," it said.

"Fr. Kurtz was removed from all public ministry very soon after the initial allegation was received, and for the several years that have elapsed since then, his activities and movements have been carefully restricted by the Chicago Province." the statement said.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski, Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Bohan)

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